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Why should you conduct social media checks on education staff?

In September 2022 the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance from the UK Department for Education (DfE) was updated to state that schools and colleges should consider carrying out online searches as part of their due diligence on shortlisted candidates. The guidance was updated again in September 2023 to state that schools and colleges should inform those shortlisted candidates that online searches may be carried out as part of their pre-recruitment checks.

The guidance was added to help educational institutions identify any incidents or issues that have happened, and which are publicly available online, which the school or college may wish to explore further with the applicant.

Many employers within the education sector find that social media checks assist them with making a more informed hiring decision, whilst reducing hiring risk and helping to maintain a safe environment for pupils and staff.

Over the years there have been thousands of cases globally involving educational staff and their social media accounts which highlight the importance of adding these checks as part of the hiring process. Here are just a few examples:

Buckinghamshire, UK

In July 2023, it was reported that a biology teacher who posted sexually explicit images of himself had been barred from the profession and “prohibited from teaching indefinitely” after being found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

Texas, US

It was reported in August 2023 that a Texas elementary school teacher had been fired after she shared a slew of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, that were deemed “alarming and racist”.

Maryland, US

As reported on 1 December 2023, a teacher at a Middle School in Maryland, US, was placed on administrative leave following posts she made on Facebook about the war in Israel, which the school’s principal condemned “as a series of antisemitic online posts”.

How can I add social media checks in to my hiring process?

Adhering to the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidelines is crucial to the safeguarding of pupils and staff, along with protecting your school or college’s reputation. However, taking a careless or informal approach to conducting these kinds of checks may put you at risk of violating applicants’ privacy and breaching discrimination law.

To ensure your candidates’ social media accounts are assessed fairly and thoroughly across the seven key index measures of online behaviour, you can use a reputable online platform to perform the checks for you. With an average turnaround time of just 30 minutes for social media checks, VettingGateway helps you to:

  • Maintain compliance as applicants provide their consent through the platform

  • Make informed hiring decisions as our Social Media Checks analyse both public and private posts

  • Ensure you are checking the correct individual, rather than gathering information on an individual with the same name

  • Eliminate subjectivity and unconscious bias by using technology

Ready to find out more?

VettingGateway enables you to complete all of your required background checks for education professionals within one platform, along with any additional checks you may wish to conduct (such as Social Media checks). To find out more about VettingGateway, simply request a demo with one of our vetting experts below.

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